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Optimism in Children and Youth Especially in Times of a Pandemic

Optimism in Children and Youth Especially in Times of a Pandemic Optimism in Children and Youth Especially in Times of a Pandemic

There are many factors that lend to a child feeling well, positive, and hopeful even in the midst of worrisome thoughts. There’s a certain parental style too that helps to raise children who feel embraced, contained, and resilient even in the face of adversity. Children are born into circumstances that can allow or disallow them to experience optimism, yet there are others who even in the hardest of challenges shine hope, optimism, and depth for life that feels good in living it.

The latter are the children who can teach us the most.

What makes them “overcome” adversity or how do they come to terms with lack or loss to the extent that it makes things feel so worthwhile? To overcome adversity is a relative term because the children who are most positive, hopeful, and optimistic actually don’t pass over anything they are actually living that is difficult. They manage it somehow so that there is a sense of belonging, a feeling of mutual regard and respect for life and others. There are buffers in place (a mentor, a teacher, a friend, neighbor, classmate, community). All this brings hope, a feeling that something larger than themselves or their particular circumstances exist. Optimistic, hopeful, grounded children are not aversive to any and all supports brought to them. Daily interactions that make them feel included or lead them to smile are valuable and hold importance. They recognize that special moments add to their value of life and bring healing and wellbeing. Children with optimism tend to see things inclusively and openly with a heart and mind that understands there is a purpose for things and they matter.

In all of the years of seeing children, many who are indeed truly optimistic think with a sense of purpose and serve as teachers and role models for how to believe in oneself and the overall force of life. They are able to see that a sense of humor is genuinely important. This goes a long way in being able to laugh, smile, and know that this too shall pass in a challenging moment. They know the connection to others can help them fare well. They recognize their future as valuable for further growth and do not get stuck in but one moment.

Parents often ask how to raise such optimistic children particularly in a time of life where we are all undergoing difficulties in this pandemic, with increases in anxiety, stress, pressures, even depression. Multiple sources will point to the studies on mental health and having a “fit” mind; that is, how to ensure that catastrophizing negative thoughts do not become a normal pattern with children and youth. Parents can engage in clear straightforward discussions with their children about practical ways to see situations and circumstances without a negative mindset that compares oneself to others, personalizes things to a large extent, or constantly leads to judging oneself. Parents will often feel at a loss when children form habituated patterns with their thinking/mental patterns that leads to learned helplessness.

This is when the “stuckness” may have peaked and requires professional support.

At this 6th week of being at home due to the pandemic, it is not a small feat to be optimistic. In fact, many parents and children alike are faced the reality that this is situation is not vanishing so soon. The optimism we once talked about in theoretical terms at becomes a reality we are trying to exist in, but so often find limited. Children are generally, by nature, more fine-tuned and neurologically wired to reach points of greater hope and can take things in stride. By adolescence this still holds true as developmentally, optimism and hope for the future abounds. Young adults in their college years may face greater stress because realism may be too great a force that sets in developmentally that can break moments of resilience that were better established in the younger years.

Although optimism is an ideal in these times we are all living through, there is no doubt that there will be sense of uplifting when this too shall pass and strengthen us at the core - parents and children and youth alike. We are all in this together. For more resources on optimism please free to visit these links:


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